Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas’

Backpacking from Mt. Magazine to Cove Lake, AR, 21-23 Oct 2016

25 October 2016

The High Adventure Team (HAT) of Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma had a really nice beginner/intermediate backpacking trip between Mount Magazine and Cove Lake, AR, last weekend.

Photos from the trip are here on my Google+ site.

Summary, 10.8 miles over two days, with about 1400 ft of altitude loss, and short gains, with mostly contouring.

We headed out from OKC around 1630 and got to Cove Lake around 1930.  It was dark, but the Scouts got tents and hammocks up very quickly.  We sat around talking for a while, and looked at the beautiful dark sky with the Milky Way perfectly clear.  Off to the east, we watched the Pleiades, followed by Sirius, and there was a glow on the horizon that was the Moon about to peek over. We saw a couple satellites.  One thing, there was some sort of bio-luminescent critter in the lake that glowed like a firefly.

The next morning, we got up, had breakfast, and packed up.  We drove up to the Corley trailhead to do a water recon and see if there was a good campsite around the halfway point of the trail, but didn’t really see either.  We decided on a clearing that had been recently cut near a natural gas facility.

A note on those.  We saw three others just like the one I reference above.  A natural gas pipe facility, and very nearby, an acre or more of trees are just bulldozed down with a rough road cut.  I figured they were for parking heavy machinery somehow used by the gas company.

Regardless, after our recon we drove up to Mt. Magazine, visited the visitor center, and went to the trailhead.  We had one vehicle shuttle to do, and we hit the trail.

Two things about this five-mile hike.  It’s a long way down (more than 1200 ft), and there is no water along the way, except in one pond we hiked next to.  There were several nice campsites (I waypointed them on my GPS, and you can see them on the terrain plot on the Google+ site).  Note that the campsites, except the one that was near the pond, had NO water nearby.  There were a number of streambeds that we crossed, but dry.

As we got closer to the five-mile halfway point, we noticed a number of good campsites. There was a decent one about 200 yards south of a point where the trailed joined up with a road for a short distance.  Gutter Rock Creek is a decent-sized streambed several hundred yards SW along that road, but again, it was dry.  Our campsite was in a stand of pine trees, and the trunks were perfect for our hammock hangers, and the copious pine needles were a thick and very comfortable bed for our tenters.  There were lots of rocks to sit on and cook on.

The next morning, we got up and had breakfast and headed out earlier than the previous day.  We had about another five miles to go to get back to Cove Lake. Once you get on the short stretch of gravel road, you find a new trail, with both the road and new trail heading steadily but not steeply up.  You level out at the Corley trailhead.  There is a sign there that points down the road, but the actual trail is west of the trailhead; exit the trailhead to the NW, and a short spur leads you to the trailhead near the bluff.

As you hike along to the north, you shortly come to the best view on the trail, that looks back at Mt. Magazine to the south.

The remainder of the trail contours or gently slopes down.  About a half mile from the Cove Lake trailhead, we crossed one stream with decent water in it, and then Cove Creek, with a LOT of water in it.  There were lots of campsites along the bluff with the good view, or in the forest as you get near Cove Lake, but most of them are dry.

This was a nice backpack, easy on our newbies, with decent views to reward our effort. 90% of the hike was in shade.

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Backpacking Cossatot River Corridor Trail, Arkansas

26 March 2014

Summary

8.6 miles and 800 ft of altitude gain over two days of backpacking on a beautiful trail along a stunning river.

I posted the photos from the trip on my Google+ site here.

The Trip

The Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma (GS-WEST) High Adventure Team (HAT) backpacked part of the Cossatot River Corridor Trail in Arkansas 20 – 23 March 2014.

The Cossatot River flows from the Ouachita Mountains southeast of Mena, AR south into southwest Arkansas. The river flows between two ridges in the trail area, is narrow in places, and has a decent drop in altitude, making it a fine kayaking and canoeing river.

The crew left Oklahoma City at 0900 Wednesday and traveled to Mena for lunch. From there, we went south to the Cossatot River Visitor Center. The Center is a very nice nature center, a small shop, and an excellent staff.

There are four campsites below the Visitor Center right on the river. Each site has a raised platform filled with shale chips (for drainage, I imagine), a picnic table, and a fire pit. There is tons of decent firewood laying around the site – there area is obviously flooded frequently (see later in the post) and lots of wood gets carried in. What the sites do not have is water or trash cans. The trash part is easy, carry your trash out. But the water adds a logistics issue – you have to bring it in or take it from the river and filter or treat it. By the time we had camp set up and were thinking about dinner, it was close to 1700. We took everything we had that would hold water (including pack bladders) and the center staff allowed us to fill them up in the janitors closet.

There is no cost to use the campsites below the Visitor Center.

Dinner was spaghetti and salad – excellent! We had brought a couple Coleman stoves for this purpose.

We had pitched tents all over the place at the campsite. One of the Rangers let us know the next morning that tents were only supposed to be pitched on the shale surfaces. Some of the tents were on flattish surfaces above the camp area, and that wasn’t cool. Note this also applies to the Cossatot Falls area.

The next morning we got up in a most leisurely fashion, had pancakes, did a final pack, and loaded up. We stopped by the Visitor Center and topped off water bottles using the water fountains there, and drove in our three cars to the north trailhead at the Brushy Creek Day Use area (there are composting toilets there, but no water). Two of our leaders were staying in camp as a base, and they shuttled the cars back to the south end of the trail.

We hit the trail and headed south. You very quickly head away from the river and up a decent distance. We had the usual pack adjustments as we walked which necessitated stop and go. We found a nice place up on a ridge and had lunch on a long fallen tree.

Our plan had been to hike all the way (7 miles) to the Cossatot Falls area for our overnight stop. We got started about 1220, though, and we were taking it easy, so we decided to change our plan and stop at Ed Banks, which was about 5 miles in.

We got there about 1700 and got camp set up quickly. This was a beautiful camp, a lot of tall trees with lots of open space around them, and nice soft ground. We found two fire rings. It actually took a bit to find the camp; we had to recon west and south a bit to triangulate on the site.

We all went out on a rock bar to wade and skip rocks in the river; it’s a very nice place. Camp was about 150 meters from water, and down a bit of a hill, but NBD. Dinner was a mix of dehydrated beef stew, noodles, and rice. We made a nice fire. Again, there was a lot of dead wood around. This area has a lot of evidence of flooding, so that’s something you would want to keep an eye on.

We had a decent rain overnight, maybe a half inch. The ground soaked all of it up. Breakfast the next morning was mainly oatmeal. We got out of camp at 1100 and headed south. The foot bridge across the river at Ed Banks was high and dry.

On the east side of the river now, you wind to and away from the river, and mainly stay pretty high. As we had seen the day before, about 1 of every 3 creeks we crossed had water that you could filter.

Crossing creeks: all but about three of the crossings have really nice bridges over them. Many of the creeks had nice waterfalls.

At one point we passed by a group of Boy Scouts from Texas; they were doing a yo-yo of the trail.

We got to Cossatot Falls area about 1400 and had lunch. There is a composting toilet here also, but no water other than the river. They have four campsites; one south of the parking lot and the rest north. There is also a picnic area just south of the first campsite.

After lunch, we decided to go climb the rocks in the Falls. It looked from the map like the trail was right down on the river, but no, we climbed about 150 ft before deciding to go back. We dropped our packs and headed down again. It was starting to get a little dark, so we took our rain gear.

The Falls are a set of uplifted rocks that the river rushes around, making a series of stairsteps all the way across the river. We climbed down and up and out into the river for a while, at which point we realized it was 1500, and we had five more miles to go. We decided to head back to our packs.

At this point the sky opened up and a steady rain began that turned into a deluge that lasted the next five hours!

We were now reversing on the suddenly very slick rocks; we had one of our girls slip 15 or so feet right off the rock, but she landed in river rock. While not soft, it beats solid rock. By the time we got to our packs, it was pushing 1600, and we were reconsidering the wisdom of hiking five miles in the rain with no campsites. The rain continued, with steady downpours, and near constant lightning and thunder. The lightning also made us reconsider hiking, as the first couple miles are on a ridge.

So we quickly decided that we were spending the night at the Falls area. We took two campsites; the larger one was for the Scouts, and the smaller one for the adults. We got out our Kelty backpacking tarp and had the girls hold it up over their heads, and we lashed the thing up to trees, the rail around the campsite, and trees. Pretty soon we had it up and keeping the rain off. We sent some of the girls up to the composting toilet as it had a roof, and others started putting their tents together under the tarp, moving out from under the tarp as the flys were put on. This kept the majority of rain out of the tents.

Everyone got in their tents to put on dry clothes, and we fired up a couple stoves and started making hot cider, cocoa, and soup for everyone to drink. We also inventoried the dry food, and distributed it to the Scouts for an inside-the-tents dryish dinner. By the time all this was done, it was 1900, and we were done for the evening/night. The rain continued. We had 4+” by the time it was done, sometime around 2300.

Our plan had been to send everyone down to set up camp, and then Blair and I were going to power-hike the five miles to the baser camp to let them know our situation and coordinate the next day. We were helping with setting up camp, and it was getting dark, and we were not enthusiastic about hiking in the rain, in the dark, on a ridge in a thunderstorm. About this time, the Boy Scouts we had seen on the trail came back through, and mentioned they were heading on to the base camp area. They very graciously agreed to take our message to base camp, and did so in spite of having to go out of their way to do so.

So THANKS to the Scouts and leaders for doing us a huge Good Turn that rainy evening. I tried to look up the Troop in Palestine TX using what I thought was their unit number of Troop 110, but couldn’t find a Troop with that number. If you are from that group and reading this, please contact me so I can thank you properly.

A Ranger came by several times to check on us. I also asked him to pass the same message to our base camp crew, and he did.

The next morning, we woke up to mainly clear skies, warm temperatures, and a river that was way high. We strung rope for clotheslines, got stuff started drying, and the Scouts cooked the dinner we skipped the night before, for breakfast. It was great!

We also got a good look at how far the river rose with the rain. These two photos give some perspective on how far up the river rose:


Before


After

We found out that the base camp crew had been evacuated the night before as the river was up into and through the base camp area.

The base camp crew showed up at the Falls area around 0930. We did the car collection while the camp dried out. Eventually, we loaded up and headed out, leaving the last five miles for a future hike.

Random Notes

Cell service along the river is iffy. Erin had service on her iPhone 4S at Cossatot Falls, and there was some service next to the Visitor Center. I was annoyed that Erin had 2G and intermittent 4G service, while my Galaxy SIII had squat. The Center has pretty good Wi-Fi.

The staff and Rangers at Cossatot ROCK.

Lessons Learned

Those camp sites with shale chips are tough on tent bottoms. I have a bathtub bottom on mine, but I wish I had brought a tarp to protect the tent.

There is NO water at any of the campsites except for the river. If you car camp, make sure you bring enough water, or you can purify enough. The center staff was kind enough to allow us to fill our bottles, but they close at 1700, and there is no guarantee you would be allowed to do the same.

We were super happy to have brought our lightweight fly; using it to pitch the tents under and provide shelter for our campers made a huge difference in comfort.

There are no established campsites between the Falls and the south trailhead at the Visitor Center. I think there are some areas it would be possible to camp, but water might be an issue, and I don’t know that the Park management would necessarily approve.

Suggestions

Some signage is needed at the Ed Banks campground. There is one of the platforms with shale chips near the river, but the actual campsite is farther along the trail, about 300 meters south of the that platform. It looks like there are two campsites there from the fire pits we found.

The web pages for the trail should be explicit in mentioning that you have to bring water to the Falls and Visitor Center campsites. I also think the situation with the parking tags needs to be explained. It would suck to drive up to Brushy Creek and start hiking, and get your car towed or locked in there.

The Brushy Creek area at the north end of the trail (no water there) is really nice. I think the park should consider letting backpackers camp in the area. My suggestion would be to open the “delta” between Brushy Creek and the Cossatot to camping. That would be out of sight of the day use areas. If crowd control is an issue, a capacity permit system is no-cost.

Closing Thoughts

This was a perfect first “serious” backpacking trip for our HAT Scouts. While we didn’t complete the trail, the distance was on the money, I think. It is a beautiful trail, with a mix of hardwood and softwood. The river is an amazing companion as you hike along. There was plenty of water.

I would be happy to go back and hike this trail again.

Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas

3 June 2013

We had a great weekend at Devil’s Den. I had previously visited the Park with a group from Troop 15; we intended to hike the Butterfield Trail, but instead ended up day hiking.

Raegan and Erin and I had one of the park Cabins for the weekend. It was a very nice one-bedroom that has a small pullout sofa bed. The cabin has a nice kitchen with a full stove, a microwave, and a full refrigerator. There is a complete set of cooking stuff (pots, pans, utensils, plates, etc.). We only used it for making hot tea.

The cabin has Direct-TV, and a phone, but there isn’t any internet (there is decent wifi at the cafe area). The cabin has a nice sitting area outside (with a charcoal or wood grill). Water pressure and quantity was great.

There are plenty of places to walk around, and trails, and a nice river with a small lake. We really like this place. We will go back.

Bedroom

Living Room

Cabin and Sitting Area

Cabin Kitchen Area

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Downstream From The Waterfall

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She could get a couple bars of EDGE on her iPhone 4s from there.

She could get a couple bars of EDGE on her iPhone 4s from there.

View from Overlook on West Side of Park

We saw five (living!) armadillos around the cabin Sunday morning. We also saw a small fox while driving through the Park.

This place is amazing for beauty. We will return, and this time we will bring food to cook at the cabin for dinner (the breakfast and lunch convenience of the cafe is too great to pass up).

Hiking Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas

22 December 2011

Summary: 5.4 miles of hiking in rough and beautiful terrain, with high bluffs and lots of trees.

The Extreme 15 patrol of Troop 15 is working up to a serious high adventure backpacking trip, and decided to go to Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas to backpack the Butterfield Trail. Another leader and I accompanied them. Unfortunately, one of our Scouts got quite ill with some stomach crud overnight, and could not keep food down, so the next morning we decided to do some low-intensity day hiking and then head back a day early. The Butterfield will still be there.

We headed out from Oklahoma City about 1740 and got to Devil’s Den around 2200, after a couple short stops along the way. It was chilly (around 40F) when we got there. Everyone got tents up quickly, and racked out. We shook everyone out around 0730 then next morning. Our first view of the park in the daylight revealed a beautiful area. We were in Area B, above the river, which was burbling happily. It had been down to about 22F, so all of the tents had frost on them.

We had brought a Coleman stove, and quickly got water hot for cocoa and breakfast. Breakfast was the famous eggs and sausage in a ziplock, and everyone seemed to enjoy it, since nothing was left… After Glen and I checked with our less-than-happy ill Scout, we decided to bag the original plan to backpack the Butterfield, and instead left the tents to dry off, loaded up our backpacks, and headed off to day hike.

Almost forgot, the cost to camp was $14 per night. The Visitor Center was closed when we got there, but before hiking I headed over and paid the fee the next morning.

We chose to head up the Yellow Rock trail. It winds around and touches other trails, goes under and around large rock outcroppings, and skirts the top of bluffs that have excellent views down into the valley that the Park is in.

The trail crosses water at many points. Several of these streams had a series of tumbling waterfalls. If the water situation on the Butterfield is similar (no reason to think otherwise), then getting water on that hike will not be an issue. There didn’t seem to be any agriculture to speak of around the Park either, so no worries about fertilizer or pesticide in the water.

One thing about hiking in December – you can see a good, long ways through the trees. I think that the green oaks during the spring and summer are really pretty, but the starkness of the winter, with the leaves on the ground, has it’s own beauty.

When we started out, the temps were in the low 30s. The high got to around 50F after noon.

We took our first break at a spectacular bluff. The ridge in the background is the structure that the Butterfield loops around. The ridge also has a trail along it’s spine.

This was a particularly beautiful stream we crossed. It had a series of small falls above and below the trail.

The hike to the overlook ran along a number of ridges. This was a typical view. The trail was well defined, but I must note that the trail map the Park uses doesn’t show all of the interconnections. The blazes were easy to follow, though.

This hike was 4 miles long, with a maximum altitude gain of over 400 feet.

We had lunch at the Overlook, and then headed back down to camp. We were looking for a trail that paralled a road, but instead just followed the road to camp. Once there, we took the tents down, a couple of the guys took short naps, and then we headed to our next hike.

Before we broke camp, I walked up to some overhanging bluffs that were above our camp. The bluffs had hundreds of steady streams of water coming over them.

The next hike was the short Devil’s Den Trail. It starts and ends at the Visitor Center. This trail leads by some spectacular terrain features! We first came up to some rock formations that lead down into caves. None of the caves were open, due to concerns about protecting the bat populations from White Nose Syndrome.

As you can tell from the pictures, some of the cracks were very deep.

The rock outcroppings were pretty amazing.

There is an amazing waterfall along the trail.

This is near the end of the trail.

This hike was 1.4 miles long.

Here are our hike maps. The first hike to the overlook is in yellow, and the Devil’s Den trail is in blue.

This was a wonderful, if short, experience. The Park is stunning. There is no cell service in the Park proper (it’s in a deep valley), but we got occasional service on the ridges above the Park. I’m going to bring the family here to stay in one of the cabins, and certainly come back with the Scouts to backpack the Butterfield.

Backpacking Part of the Ozark Highlands Trail

20 October 2010

This past weekend, the Oklahoma City area Girl Scout High Adventure Team (HAT) did a backpacking trip along the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) in western Arkansas. It was a great trip, with perfect weather.

The HATs are a newish idea that are meant to keep the girls interest in Scouts as they start to get older (11+). The HAT for the OKC area is a great group, and they have already had three adventures that Erin has been able to attend; all three were outstanding.

This time, the trip started with a rendezvous at the KOA Kampground in Alma, AR. I have never camped at a KOA. We pitched out tents out next to a nice pond, and had a great nights sleep. The next morning we got up and had breakfast. One interesting thing: a group showed up as we were setting up camp (around 2330), and set up a couple tents the next campsite over. The next morning when we woke up at 0730, they were gone. The camp manager came around looking for them, and it seems they gave a false name and phone number, and so skipped paying for the camping. Kind of crappy, I think.

We divided into two groups (beginner backpackers, and those with some experience), and headed to the trail heads. We went out a a trail crossing at mile 10.5, and the experienced group went to Lake Fort Smith State Park, the OHT trailhead, and started from there.

We got to the trailhead around 1015, got squared away, and headed out at 1030. We had a pretty happy group:

Erin was raring to go (at least that’s my interpretation):

My apologies for the smearing on a lot of these pictures. I had some crud on the lens, and I finally noticed and cleaned it much later, on the trail.

The parking area for the trailhead is right in front of the eastern departure for the OHT. The western departure is about 50 meters back along the road to the south.

The trail up here is largely dirt and occasional roots. There is quite a bit of brush along the trail. The trail is marked with white blazes, and it’s easy to follow.

We walked a quarter mile or so, and then stopped and had an equipment check.

The trail is really nice. It meanders around a lot of native rocks.

We took a break after about a half mile. These girls being beginner backpackers, we let them set the pace, so we were not blazing along the trail. That’s OK, though, since we didn’t want them to get burned out.

We crossed a large number of dry watercourses along the trail. Many of them are filled with rocks.

At about 1.3 miles into the trip (so this would be about OHT mile 9.2), we crossed the first water we saw. At the crossing, the water was quite brackish, but as we walked along, we climbed a bit above the water, and saw clean water flowing below us.

We stopped for lunch after about 1.4 miles. We found some nice rocks piled up, and they made good tables. We had peanut butter and jam, on pita bread. Some of the girls got to experience in-the-woods potty for the first time here. Erin climbed up on a big rock, and found a partial deer skull with small partial antlers.

The trail was getting a bit more crowded with brush along here. A couple of the hikers (including me) got scratched by brambles on the trail.

We ran across this tree that had an odd growth around it.

The trail goes up and down, but overall down, as it travels towards Lake Fort Smith. The highest altitude gain isn’t very much, but the trail is occasionally steep. You are looking down about 40 feet here.

This was a really neat watercourse that had a stone bottom, like a natural flume.

At one point along the trail, our leader, one of the Scouts, did a very heads-up observation of a three-foot rattlesnake in the dead center of the trail. I think it’s a timber rattlesnake; the rust-colored stripe along the back is diagnostic. There is a good article on them at Wikipedia.

After about 3.8 miles (OHT mile 6.7), we found a nice water source, and stopped to pump filter some water.

We continued along the same stream, which got wider and was flowing faster. We found a nice camp spot. This was 4.1 miles into the walk, or about OHT mile 6.4. The water here was really nice! There were two places just downstream of the camp that would make fine summertime swimming holes. There were some flat rocks that made for perfect cooking and sitting places.

Dinner that night was all dehydrated. We had beef stew, potatoes, and mac and cheese, and fried bread dough with cinnamon and sugar for dessert. It was excellent, we were all pretty hungry. Most of the kids had never had dehydrated food before, so it was quite the experience for them.

A couple words on food. Our trip leaders had put the menus together, and they were pretty much perfect. Great quantity, taste, and ease of cooking and cleanup.

The kids played along the river for a bit, and there was some talking, but not much.

I left my pocket Sudoku book in the car (poor planning on my part), so when I retired to my tent around 2015, I lay there and thought for a bit, and then just went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning at 0715. I had almost 11 hours of sleep, and really felt well. I do not think I woke up all evening.

I really liked my tent. This was my second use of it. It is a Kings Canyon two-person three season tent from Academy ($60). It weighed about 4.5 lbs. The extra weight was worth it for the space. I made a ground cloth out of heavy black plastic sheet that worked just fine.

While I was packing up my stuff, a really nice buck ran through the part of our camp where my tent was. It passed no more than 20 feet away from me, bounding along through the woods.

I FINALLY realized that my camera lens was all crudded up. Here is a before-and-after.

We got started after breakfast. The trail was a bit more winding, and had a lot of rock on it. This was an example.

A bit farther along the trail, we ran across one of the two campsites that were along the trail. This was nice, in that it had some more flat tent spaces, but I liked our rock ledges better.

The flora also slightly changed as we got a bit farther on. There was less underbrush.

About a half hour into the hike, we ran into the other crew, who were working their way east. We took a group photo, and then headed back out again.

A bit farther and we started seeing Lake Fort Smith.

We crossed a number of ravines and stream beds. Some of them were a bit steep, but the total altitude change was only about 30 feet each time.

We found this tree across the trail, and Erin was kind enough to move it :).

We soon had our second and third snakes on the trail. These were both the common Rough Green Snake. One was climbing up a limb, and the other was right in the middle of the trail, and was lucky to not get tramped by the passing crew.

We had been preparing for the infamous water crossing of the north end of Lake Fort Smith. It turned out that it was down far enough that we were dry the entire way.

There is what would normally be a marshy area between the two parts of the water crossing. It was high and dry.

I carried my GPS for the entire hike. This is an overlay of the track on Google Earth. The total length of the trip was 6.8 miles.

This is the topographic map of the area with the GPS data for the path we hiked overlayed. The topo map shows a trail (dashed line), but the actual path is a little offset for most of the length of the trail. I would look at the GPS every once in a while, and the error calculated was usually in the 16-25 ft range. The flags: OHT TH (Trailhead) is where we started, Lunch is, well, where we ate lunch, and Camp Water is where we overnighted. EOT is End of Trail.

There were some ups and downs on the trail. This is the altitude plot of the hike.

This is interesting in that it generally follows the drainage into the lake.

This was a great weekend. I would not mind hiking more of the OHT. The weather was perfect. I thought it was a tiny bit cool after the first day of hiking, so I wore my sweatshirt, but I didn’t need my sweatpants at all. The amount and type of food was just right. The Scouts were real troopers. There was no complaining or beefing at any point along the trail. We had a couple of the girls be hike leaders.

Our rate of advance was fairly slow, but only if you compare the usual rate of an adult to an 11 year old girl, carrying everything she needs for two+ days on her back! I was really impressed by the girls (and the adults), with their stamina, and their work ethic. The tents went up smoothly, and they went down smoothly. We had no injuries, except a couple scrapes by brambles near the trail.

We had little wildlife, a noticeable lack of birds, but had three snakes and the deer that came through camp. There were a tremendous number of critter holes along the trail.

Over the two days on the trail, we saw about 10 groups, and a couple singles, out backpacking. Most of them were going west to east, and we had two groups pass us east to west.

The water was clear (except that one place it was brackish, but it was clear a few yards upstream).

Since we were hiking to the west, we ended up at Lake Fort Smith State Park. Everything looks pretty new there. The Visitor Center had a couple critters on exhibit, and a small gift shop. They needed showers! The Visitor Center had wifi, but it wasn’t working. We had a couple hours until the other group met up with us, so I hiked the Warren Hollow trail (1.6 miles one way); it ended up at two buildings (again, new) that are the Group Camp area, on top of a hill. Those buildings had open wifi, so I used my Blackberry to connect and get my first email download since Saturday morning, and to call Raegan and give her a quick update.

I don’t know that I would through-hike the OHT (although I might change my mind on that!), but I would like to get some of the other sections over the next couple years. Great fun!